Davao City to demolish riverside houses

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 December) —  Residential structures built along the city’s five major rivers will be demolished, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

Duterte told the city government-run Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday that the local government prohibited the building of these structures, which must be removed to keep the dwellers from danger when the rivers swell.

The city’s major rivers are Davao, Lipadas , Lasang, Matina Pangi, and Talomo.

“We want to protect human lives from any incident along the rivers,” she said.

Two men transport bamboos via the Davao River, away from the traffic jam of the city streets. Photo taken 11 September 2020 by GG BUENO/MindaNews

She said several residents in the city’s riverside communities have voluntarily demolished their houses after they were informed by local government of the risks.

“Several Dabawenyos readily accepted the explanation of our team on our basis why it is prohibited, what is the possible impact if anything happens to the rivers. Many of them readily demolished their structures, although there are few who resisted. So, we have to demolish their structures,” she said.

Duterte said riverside communities in the city have been mapped out.

She added that affected dwellers will be referred to the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) and City Social Services and Development Office to get food assistance from the local government and possible assistance for relocation.

Duterte explained that not all affected families will be relocated as the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) will assess them if they are qualified for the program.

CPDO head Ivan Cortez said on Saturday that the immediate concerns are the structures built on top of the river dikes.

He added that a definite schedule of the demolition has yet to be worked out in compliance with all the directives, but voluntary demolition is encouraged given the risks involved.

“At a quick glance, you can outrightly say these structures should not remain there and should be removed for their own safety given the unpredictability of weather,” he said.

But he also said that clearing all river dikes of structures is of utmost concern because “common sense will dictate that these settlers put their families in harm’s way.”

Section 5 of the 2013 to 2022 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of Davao City states the guidelines “in the utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resource,” providing the prescribed setbacks and/or easements along the entire length of the banks of rivers, creeks and streams, shores of the sea, lakes, and waterways.”

It said that a five-meter setback along banks of waterways in urban areas except for the portion from the mouth of the Davao River up to the Maa-Marfori Bridge Area which should have a 30-meter wide river easement for road and promenade purposes; 20 meters easement for the same in all agricultural; 40 meters for forestal and conservation areas; and 40 meters for shores of the seas, lakes and similar bodies of water.

It added that setbacks/ easements shall be subject for public use such as recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing salvage and other activities.

Davao City emerged as the fifth most resilient among highly urbanized cities (HUC) in the country based on the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) 2020, which measures the competitiveness level of the LGUs based on economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure, and resiliency pillars.

The city’s ranking as overall most competitive HUC inched up to second this year from third last year.

Duterte also reminded the Dabawenyos to brace for landslides and flooding this rainy season.

As of 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office reported that all areas within the city are experiencing partly cloudy to cloudy skies due to the localized thunderstorms.

It added that all river channels are monitored at safe levels while the coastal status remains calm.  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)